Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford (1676-1745) Prime Minister

Jean Baptiste van, (Studio) Loo

Oil on canvas (feigned oval)

  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Downing Street

    Interpretation about this artwork is under review

    The Government Art Collection recognises its responsibility to artists, colleagues and all our audiences to represent the diversity of the UK and to embed anti-racist and equitable practices throughout our work. We are taking action to address inequality in the Collection and its interpretation.

    Prime Minister Robert Walpole wears a long grey wig, the black and gold robes of the Chancellor and the garter ribbon and star, indicating his membership of the Order of the Bath. This half-length portrait is derived from a full-length original, painted in 1740, which formerly belonged to Walpole and is now in the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. Among the many other versions in existence are two in the Government Art Collection. It is one of several similar portraits of Walpole from the studio of Jean Baptiste van Loo. Born in France to a family of Flemish painters, van Loo moved to England in 1737, where he was patronised by Walpole. He returned France in 1742 and his later life was divided between Paris and Aix.

    This painting was formerly in the collection of Lord Lee of Fareham (1868-1947), a politician and patron of the arts. In 1909 Lee purchased the Chequers mansion and estate in Buckinghamshire. He and his wife equipped the house with furniture and works of art, before presenting the estate, along with the contents of the house and an endowment for its upkeep of £100,000, for the use of successive prime ministers.

  • About the artist
    Jean Baptiste van Loo was born in Aix-en-Provence to a family of Flemish painters. He worked in the south of France until 1714, when he travelled to northern Italy and Rome, and settled in Paris in 1720. While in Paris, he established himself as a portrait painter in the circle of the Regent, Philippe d'Orléans, and also painted a portrait of Louis XV. In 1731, he became a member of the Académie Royale. In 1737, van Loo moved to England, where he was patronised by Prime Minister Robert Walpole. In 1742, after a year’s ill-health, van Loo returned to Aix and his later life was divided between Paris and Aix. Today, his works are in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Louvre, Paris; and the Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
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  • Details
    Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford (1676-1745) Prime Minister
    Oil on canvas (feigned oval)
    height: 76.00 cm, width: 63.50 cm
    Presented by Lord Lee of Fareham, before 1923
    on verso of frame, printed on a plastic disc: 688
    Presented by Lord Lee of Fareham, before 1923.
    GAC number